Monday, 23 May 2011

Council Leader Keith House - Priorities for Hedge End

Hedge End councillors have managed to get a reasonable distribution of committee places in the new, slimmed down Borough Council.  There are only two scrutiny panels this year instead of four, so fewer places to go round.

All our councillors sit on the Hedge End West End and Botley Local Area Committee, and St John’s Councillor Peter Hughes is the new vice-chair.    New Hedge End Town Councillor and Deputy Mayor Rupert Kyrle continues as chair.

St John’s Councillor Jane Welsh is vice-chair of the Licensing Committee and sits on the Policy and Performance Scrutiny Panel and the Standards Committee.

Councillors Peter Hughes and Jenny Ann Hughes are both on the Resources Scrutiny Panel, as is Councillor Derek Pretty who also has a place on the Licensing Committee.

New Hedge End Town Councillor Dan Clarke represents West End on the Borough Council and is the new vice-chair of the Administration Committee and also sits on the Audit and Risk Management Committee.

Another change is that the Leader (our very own Wildern Councillor Keith House) gets to appoint his cabinet personally instead of having it voted in by the Council.  Keith chose not to bring in any new blood to his executive team.  He remains Leader and Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Resources, and is a member of the Administration Committee.  Grange Park Councillor Louise Bloom is Cabinet Member for the Environment and a member of the Standards Committee.

Hedge End Blogger asked Keith how he came to choose the cabinet and how the Council’s priorities will affect Hedge End in the coming year.   Here is his reply.  

“The Lib Dems in Eastleigh construct the Cabinet that leads the Borough in a democratic manner.  After deciding as a Group on their Leader, they then vote within their Local Area Committee teams to decide who should Chair and Vice-Chair the Local Area Committee, and who they want to represent the area on the Cabinet.  The Group as a whole then choose two additional Cabinet members, one each from the north and the south of the Borough. 

This year Botley Councillor (and County councillor for the St John’s and Wildern Wards of Hedge End) Rupert Kyrle has again been chosen to Chair the Local Area Committee, with St John’s Ward councillor Peter Hughes serving as Vice-Chair.  Grange Park councillor Louise Bloom has been elected to the Cabinet and retained her brief for the Environment.  Our area has a third Cabinet member in Botley councillor Cathie Fraser, who has the Health and Community Safety portfolio. 

These are all experienced councillors, very able to speak-up for Hedge End.  The key issues confronting the Borough over the coming year matter immensely to Hedge End.  We have the need to continue to find genuine efficiency savings to avoid cuts in front-line services so we can achieve our pledge of keeping Council Tax 1% below inflation.  We have the challenge of taking forward the Rose Bowl project, which will create 200 jobs and new income to the council as well as hopefully bringing regular Test Matches to our area.  And most significantly we have to take forward the Borough’s Core Strategy for housing, employment and our countryside.  This will allocate development sites for the next twenty years.  Our commitment is to meet real local need yet also to keep the countryside gaps between our communities.  This will not be easy.  We hope to start this process in July and then run a major consultation exercise later in the autumn.  Whatever consultation we do will be genuine, asking real questions and wanting real views back from our community. 

So there is plenty for the Council to get its teeth into over the coming year.  We will, as always, keep residents informed throughout the year. “

Thanks Keith for taking the time to give more than a quick soundbite.

The next full council meeting will be on 14th July.


  1. "The Lib Dems in Eastleigh construct the Cabinet that leads the Borough in a democratic manner"

    Of course Mr House. It is completely democratic that one man should select the cabinet and include his partner - who needs a committee?

    Nice to see Dan getting on btw.

    I have a feeling he is going to be a Lib Dem PPC a lot quicker then anyone imagined.

  2. Interesting that you got a reasonably straight answer Keith (Day). I suspect Keith House realised it would go onto your blog and we'd all be ready to pounce on it...

    His comment about allocating development sites for the next 20 years will be of significant interest locally and I'm pleased to see a commitment here to a major consultation exercise.

    I trust that the Independent Councillors and the wider Blogging Community (me incl!) will make sure that this consultation exercise is not a sham...!

  3. Putting on my fair play hat, I should point out that Eastleigh's old system whereby the Council elected the cabinet is no longer allowed according to rules imposed by central government. If you have a Leader / Cabinet system, the Leader has to select the cabinet. Keith has at least continued to consult the Lib Dem Group which would have supported and carried these nominations if there had been a vote.

    I certainly don't agree with every decision the council has made on the environment, but it has done some good things. I'd rather judge the cabinet members by their record, not their relationships.

  4. "I should point out that Eastleigh's old system whereby the Council elected the cabinet is no longer allowed according to rules imposed by central government"

    No Keith, the government scrapped that particular part of the Local Government Act 2000 in September - I am surprised that councillors are not aware of this.

  5. As I understand it, it requires new legislation to scrap old legislation, and in this case the changes are in the localism bill which is still going through the parliamentary process.

    When council voted on this, we were aware of the goverment's intention, as stated in your link, but had to choose between the options offered by the existing legislation. As the new secretary of state was causing a fair amount of chaos in local government at the time the recommendation followed was the one that caused the least disruption and lowest cost, as there was a possibility we would have to go through the whole process again once Eric Pickles got his act together, if you see what I mean.

    There is a tendency in the coalition, particularly on the Lib Dem side, to claim a commitment as "achieved", when all they have done is publish a statement of intention.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. "There is a tendency in the coalition, particularly on the Lib Dem side, to claim a commitment as "achieved", when all they have done is publish a statement of intention."

    I think this is a tendency which has been inherited from Labour Keith.

    The advice was issued in September and the new executive arrangements adopted in May.

    The consequences of not moving from the old system would have been what exactly?

    Would the government really have fined the Council for failing to adhere to legislation it intended to scrap?

    After the localism bill is past will the council be voting for a return to the old arrangements?

    I suppose you are right, Democracy is too expensive.

    We should do away with most the councillors and committees really and leave it all to one bloke.

    After all, in view of the levels of councillor absenteeism we are clearly wasting our money on them.

    I guess the referendum on having a directly elected and accountable Mayor was binned on the grounds of cost.

    It's too expensive to let the 78,000 voters of Eastleigh have a say in who leads the council.

    Much cheaper to let 1600 people in Wildern decide that for them!

    (previous post deleted due to poor spellig)